MANILA, Philippines, MAY 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A site in the Philippines visited by Pope John Paul II has been inaugurated as a memorial shrine and might eventually become a parish.
The Memorial Shrine of Blessed John Paul II was inaugurated Monday. The property is owned by the Philippine government and is located at the same site where the Holy Father celebrated a Mass on Feb. 21, 1981.
People are calling for the shrine to be made into a parish, a plan which Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said he is open to accepting. However, he said he told officials the property would have to be donated to the diocese.
"The area should be owned by the diocese," he told CBCPNews, adding that the diocese would go further, to "make a chaplaincy and then eventually a parish in the name of Blessed John Paul II."
The memorial shrine currently falls under the Parish of Our Lady of the Pillar in Morong town.
The shrine is located at the former Philippine Refugee Camp Processing Center, now Bataan Technology Park, Inc.. The camp was the final stop for Indochinese refugees making their way to permanent resettlement in other nations.
The executive director of the site, Retired Navy Commodore Amado Sanglay, said he expects no problem with the bishop's condition.
"Certainly the board of BTPI will understand that (condition) … I don’t see any problem," he said.
The camp served as the temporary home of some 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees known as the "boat people."
The memorial shrine is located at the site where John Paul II celebrated a Mass with the refugees.
The shrine's altar is a replica of the papal stage, with a life-size image of the Pontiff aboard a boat with a family of boat people. Other elements from the Pope's visit, including the altar façade and concrete slabs from the stage were incorporated into the shrine.